Thursday, October 07, 2021

Bogus Bogus

Detailing fake news in the Wired piece regarding the Book of Veles is bad enough but to compound the felony, it seems the pictures in Velds, as per the one seen above, are also fake. Read on to see how this doubly bogus book came to be.

THE PHOTOGRAPHIC ELITE gathered in Perpignan, France, on September 1 at the annual Visa Pour L’Image photojournalism festival. That night, the outdoor screen shimmered with images of people using laptops in Soviet-era apartments and a bear strolling past rundown industrial sites. They came from The Book of Veles by Jonas Bendiksen, an award-winning documentary photographer who had traveled to North Macedonia, which had been home to a vibrant fake news industry during the 2016 US election. As his peers gazed at his work, Bendiksen watched from the bleachers with increasing discomfort.

And for good reason.

Bendiksen’s Book of Veles was published in May and opens with that unreal essay. It includes more than 50 of his composite images interspersed with computer-generated quotes and reprints of scholarly analysis of the forged Book of Veles. The work’s true—untruthful—nature was known to only a handful of people at Magnum and Gost, Bendiksen’s publisher. Both publicized the book with conventional announcements.

LFI magazine, a glossy magazine owned by camera maker Leica, devoted a full page to the book in its August/September issue, featuring a handful of images and calling it “intelligent and entertaining” if also “an uncomfortable lesson in the harmful potential of digital disinformation.” During a July promotion, Magnum offered prints of a shot in which a flock of birds rushes past a drab apartment building with a man silhouetted in one window for $100.

At least Bendiksen confesses about the doctored pix.

When Bendiksen got to Perpignan, his duplicity weighed on him. “I was sick to my stomach, but I felt I had to document that the screening actually took place,” he says. He avoided the whirl of networking, dining alone and hiding out in his hotel room to avoid meeting anyone he knew. The night of his screening, he arrived early and took a seat high in the bleachers, trying to hide behind his face mask. When the Veles video rolled, a sequence of his bear images soon swam into view. “My heart jumped a beat,” Bendiksen says. “I thought the bears were the weakest link.”

Bendiksen launched his attack on himself the next day, back home in Norway, aiming for the truth to emerge before the festival’s main program ended a few days later. He logged into Miskin’s Facebook account and wrote a post accusing himself of paying subjects to pose fraudulently, declaring “His project is the real fake news!!"

Bogus Bogus indeed.

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